Please select a suitable methodology and make it a heading for paper for the research topic the Impact of inline learning on adult eductaion
Methodology Review: Impact of Online Learning on Adult Education
One of the first significant and influential papers on how to learn and gain knowledge through the online program was written in 1999 by Terry Anderson. The article gave an introduction of a primary mode of a learning environment. The authors suggested that these three essential elements must be in place to implement an effective learning environment. The author researched the common basics of online learning. He argued that an online environment could have a cognitive element, a presence element, a social presence, and a teaching presence. Analyzing transcripts from an online teaching session, they found that indeed all three of these factors emerged. The methodology is somewhat crude as it is more of an art to analyze transcripts. However, the primary findings seem to suggest a good start to the online learning method. They suggest that all the elements that can be in a classroom can also be in an online environment. Online learning has enormous potential and is more advantageous. In many ways, the researchers indeed foresaw the future. However, those researchers did not give many guidelines for how online education should be conducted. They foresaw that online education would be a powerful tool to use in education, but they had no technical know-how on online learning.
In 2000, a significant debate turned online learning into a topic that focuses on globalization. The idea was that the world was accelerating in terms of globalization, and online learning would allow adults to get skills that would allow them to succeed in this environment. The idea was rather straightforward: during periods of intense globalization, many jobs were outsourced, and this would require many adults to be retrained. Many felt that online learning was just the tool to handle this job. In an influential paper in 2000 by J. Daniel, the author makes a strong case for the ability of online learning to be an effective response for the demand to retrain adults (Daniel, 2000). This paper marked a vital link between online learning and the particular needs of adults. It had already been documented that online learning could be a useful tool for kids and adults. This paper illustrated that online learning has played a significant role not only in the enhancing the learning of children, but also the education of adults and the dynamics of globalization. The methodology of this paper was rather straightforward. Daniels only accessed restrained adults and found that many use online sources. Eventually, this is not the most thorough methodology what leaves it open to many criticisms. It does not take into account various factors such as selection of those who use the sources. It is very likely that the ones who assessed online learning were also the most motivated ones. Thus, they would have succeeded whether they did online learning or not. This problem is endemic to many parts of the research. A significant part of the research is observational and does not control the variables that are rather important. In the research it is said that this paper is still crucial because it gives adult online learning yet another dimension. That aspect makes it precious in the modern world that is constantly changing under the pressures of globalization. If online learning really helps adults to cope with changes in the economic climate, then it is really the precious tool.
Online learning enables flexible accessibility to lecturers, from anywhere and at any time, it allows a learner or a professor to plan their time available for learning or teaching (Cole, 2000). The Internet essentially allows students to learn at a pace that is perfectly in line with their attention. They can have a teacher and material wherever and whenever they want. However, in this case much attention should be paid to the way in which online programs are designed. The argument is that online learning can put learning into overdrive, but this also should be managed then very effectively. If you are driving at a higher speed, you will get to your destination shortly, although it also increases the risk of an accident. Thus, when it comes to online learning the attention should be paid to how the program is constructed. Cole (2009) has merely presented the problem, but he did not offer a methodology of how to use online resources in the most effective way. However, this is an incredibly important point. Information technology is fascinating because it has a property that almost defies physics. When making a phone call, imagine a distance and a time between two people on the phone. Thus, online education can allow so many options that were not there before due to the natural constraints of time and space.
In 2001, Robert Kozma came up with a critical theory that synchronized much of the research concerning online learning. The theory stresses that, online learning is just a tool that can complement learning, but cannot induce learning. It was a significant contribution since before the introduction of online learning many people thought that computers could only take over, teach people and take all teachers’ jobs away. The theory argued that computers can be a powerful tool to help to build mental models and allow learners to stimulate ideas about the real world. However, some people at some point still explain the real world to students. Thus, particular attention must be paid to how programs are designed. Hence, it makes it easy to know how the program is implemented. It would not be the case that you can just put people in front of a computer and have them learn. Kozma forwarded a theoretical model and used quite an abstract methodology. At the same time this methodology markes out important points for researchers by trying to understand why feedback loops are that important, what role timing plays, etc. The planned theoretical construct was supposed to test online learning to see how effective it will be in helping people to learn. What elements were then essential and most important? This theoretical methodology set a framework for much of the research to come. However, the question of how to measure feedback loops is still opened. This paper will later suggest panel methods that can be used in even as simple model as Kozma’s.
Rosset in 2002 encouraged the action of doing it right concerning online learning; he emphasized the necessity of support for the process. Rosset highlighted that learners could not be just left alone to learn. Internet education could allow students to go very fast, but they could also get lost easily. Thus, support would be critical. In many ways, this offers the final piece to the theoretical construct of online learning. That is the methodology related to forming and testing a model of online learning. Rosset completes the theory that online learning must be supported by proper feedback; like a car that can go fast, but the driver also needs more feedback to stay on track. Out of this, much of the literature concerning testing individual online learning methods was born with a focus on support. Thus, many studies tried to control for different environments that offered different amounts of support. For example, one environment might have an online facilitator present at all times. Thus, if someone is stuck and confused in any problem, they could ask questions at any time. Then others would give no support. The key variable though would be the amount of support given. Thus, Rosset felt that doing it right would not involve leaving people alone in front of a computer, but assuring there was support. There would still need to be people to guide the drivers occasionally. Wilson says that this theory indicates what we can observe (Wilson, 56).
A methodological debate has surrounded the overuse of theory. Wilson in 1999 wrote a paper called “The dangers of Theory based Design.” He documented how theory can be dangerous when overused in assessing education. Wilson stresses an evidence-based approach. Mainly Wilson states that theory decides what we can observe, and this can have a negative effect. Wilson suggests that it is possible to find things without using a complex theory. Even though it is not easy to do, it can lead to better results. Just using this method can bias our perceptions and lead to self-fulfilling results. The thing is that we only look at results that would prove our theory. We only conduct experiments that would likely prove our theory, thus theories limit and bias our research. It is impossible to start looking at numbers and evidence without a proper theory. Thus, the methods noted above, and notably the Kozma theory is a massive building block to the methodology of assessing online learning. We cannot start understanding anything unless we have some building block or lens explaining how to look at it. That is what a good theory does, thus as Einstein observed methods to decide what we found, but they also give us a starting point to make our own observation.
Although the basis for the online theory is clearly explained, what the evidence suggests is not well understood. In the year 2003, there was a critical paper entitled “Examining the number of people Presence in Online Courses in Relation to Students Perceived Learning and Satisfaction” (Richardson & Swan, 2003). The authors conducted a controlled experiment where they gave students the same learning material online then measured the degree to which they had learnt the material. The key variable was a social presence. The researchers varied the degree to which the learners are exposed to the presence of someone else. They found strong statistical evidence to suggest that social presence is an important variable that influences the learning process. This methodology was quite wounded, though it would be a more reasonable founding if a larger sample sizes were used. Only 97 participants took part in the experiment. While this is enough to form statistically significant results, it would be better if the results were even more robust. Thus, the authors pinpoint a critical aspect of online learning- the importance of such an element as social presence. There must be a facilitator online or someone else the learner can get in touch with. This goes back to both Kozma’s models and Rosset’s writings. They both suggest that some support and the human element are needed, and it appears that this research also supports those ideas.
A systematic search of the research literature identified that more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning analyzed and screened these studies to find that. (a) Contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. Because of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis, (Means, 2008). In 2008, there was a vast research evaluation conducted on all the research concerning online learning. It was an incredibly extensive study. As the quote mentions, the authors found over 51 independent effects concerning online learning. That is so many different effects to review! The author showed the number of the search to study the uses of rigors empirical methods. The authors then try, to summarize, the major findings. The authors use a methodology of their own to look at other studies. The basic paper divides learning approaches into two types: Alternative learning where online was used as a substitute for face learning as Blended learning, which means there was a face to face learning along with online learning. The study then takes a criterion to look at only relevant studies; the ones of the method that need to be researched rigorously and use statistical methods to control the important variable.
To find the primary finding of the massive study, the author first noted that there is a surprisingly small number of studies that directly contract face-to-face methods with blended methods. Furthermore, they find some evidence that the mixed techniques are any better. Thus, the results show that there has been an enormous amount of research that proves we are sort of back from where we have started. That means it is very hard to measure learning. That is just a fact. While there is a large amount of theories, it is difficult to prove those with evidence. The standard notion now is that online learning can indeed help. It can help adults to train for different jobs and help them learn. It must be something that can be precious. However, the evidence is very hard to find. While there are many studies some often, conflict with the others, and it is hard to know exactly how many of the 51 distinct independent findings have any validity. Unfortunately, we seem to be at a bit of a loss. We have done all this research yet we still do not know the critical variables. That is where panel methods could help; before turning to panel methods let us review what we know.
Methodologies and the Future of Studying the Effectives of Online Learning
So where does this all leave us? Well, there is certainly a firm foundation to consider online learning as a crucial and a useful tool for adults. Even though, there are clear barriers to accessing effective online learning this should not hinder the learner from proceeding with the education. There are still many important things we understand and more things yet to learn. Online learning is far too powerful of a tool to give up on just because the results are hard to prove. If online learning has, even small pros they would pay for the research many times over given how many people will at some point in their life use online learning resources.
Even though online learning is a very powerful tool there needs to be a personal element. It is not feasible to imagine we will ever reach the day when we can just leave students in front of their computers, and they will learn by themselves without any human guidance. We know that it matters a lot how online learning is designed and employed and, furthermore that, person-to-person relationships are still required to contextualize what the computer can teach us. We know that we have to construct the programs in such a way that they are still human. We are humans, and we have learnt to learn from other humans. Thus, the computer is foreign to us in many ways, and we must find ways to personalize the computer methods. The computer is a device that we humans have invented, but it is not a natural forum for us to learn. Thus, we know it can be a powerful tool to give us information, but we still need to put this information in a context.
What perhaps is the most important thing we don not know is what we are looking for that is so hard to find? Most research that has been conducted on the theories of learning were discussed in the literature review. The theories, however, are very hard to test. We know that learning is difficult to measure. There are many barriers. For example, if someone learns something new, how we can know how well he or she contextualizes it and how well will he or she remember it in the future. It is possible that online learning is fragile for immediate memory, but it is suitable for a long-term learning. Thus, there is an enormous time dimension to these studies; one approach that this learning is as powerful as the panel method. This time dimension is crucial to exploit. A panel method allows researchers not only to exploit time, but also control for so many important variables.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Panel Methodology
Panel methods are a very powerful way to analyze data and get right results. The problem with panel data is that it is very hard to find. You need to have the same group of people over an extended period. The group methodology is often employed to solve complex problems like the ones associated with online learning. The ideal experiment would be to gather a large group of adults and expose them each to different online learning methods: online, blended and only face-to-face. Then track the people over a long period of time and to see what the final results are. It is a power of the panel methods as you look at each change over time. Thus, you can control for many other differences between the people in the experiment.
In the recent textbook “Analysis of Panel Data” by Hsiao, the author demonstrates the power of panel methods (Hsiao, 2014). The books show how the process controls so many unseen things. For one when you get a sample of people at one time and give those different treatments it could be possible that the two groups are very different. With panel methods, you control for this because every person has a baseline. Thus, you measure it against the person’s baseline and not against the group as a whole. Probably this is a powerful technique to solve the problems, which allows an individual to see the changes with the same person, and thus you don’t have to worry about unobserved differences between participants. The major downside, of course, is that this takes a lot of time, and an expensive experimental setup. Participants should have a desire to learn in an experiment for a long time. It also requires an excellent design from the beginning.
Ideally, the impact of online learning for adults could be assessed in this way. However, it would require quite a bit of work. Panel methods are very powerful, but at the same time they are rather expensive. Panel methods usually take a long set up period and are conducted over many years. Since the participants will be followed for quite some period, it is important to select a panel of members that will not disappear. It is important to have the control variables, and self-guides set out from the start. What treatments will one group get while the others get a control? In this case, the control would be face-to-face teaching, thus the standards or old fashion teaching method. The treatment groups would then get a mix of online and face-to-face teaching methods and just straightforward online.
The actual power of the methodology comes through in controlling the unobserved differences between participants and the use of time. Thus, you answer questions about what is the effect over the long run. As mentioned, it is very difficult to assess learning on the spot. It is very hard to determine how much someone has learnt with different methods since it is unclear how well the learning will be understood by the learner. This method takes care of that major problem. You can measure the knowledge of the person at many different points in time. Thus, you can get a much clearer picture of the learning ability of the individual.
There has been one gigantic panel study concerning education. The results were presented in a book edited by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, (2005). As he explained the purpose of conducting the panel, he said that the panel was gigantic and came to a crucial conclusion. The findings do not relate to online learning for adults, but the methodology represents how sturdy panels can be. The AERA study did as mentioned. They took a large group of student analyzed their character, followed each step they took for a long period. Over this period, the students were given different teaching methods. It helps the researcher to gauge a baseline of each student and to interpret how the treatment then affects the student over a long period. The study concluded that certain important variables had a considerable impact on the learning ability of the students. The students that were given certain treatments showed must larger improvements over the time than the student that was not given those treatments. The results were very significant given the number of participants that were signed up. This study demonstrates the value of the panel methodology in accessing learning and how best to induce learning. One can imagine this methodology being adopted to cover the topic of online education and teaching tactics.
Online education would be particularly hard to assess without panel methods. You need to be able to follow participants over long periods. It is just too hard to assess learning unless you have a long time component. It would be strongly recommended that an extensive study similar to the AERA one be conducted but with the goal of assessing online education for adults. As mentioned the treatment could be further refined. In the group that reverses all online, they could be divided into adults that are trying to finish degrees and adults that are trying to upgrade their skills. Thus, it is possible that online learning is better for one but not for the other. These are the types of substitute differences that need be accessed and understood. The number of differ treatments that are trying to be assessed is just limited to the size of the participant group. With a suitable large set of participants, it is possible to evaluate many different techniques. The online group could even be given the same learning but with slightly different setups. For example, maybe one site provides help daily while another weekly. You could fine-tune the groups to gather very subtle changes.
The panel method is inherently a quantitative approach. The idea is to get the measurable variable of interest and track changes to that variable over time given different treatments. The apparent variable of interest, in this case, would be some measure of learning; thus, a formal test that, of course, depends on the central topic of study. Something like a standard IQ test could be used as a baseline at first to differentiate between different participants abilities from the outset. The baseline is perhaps the most important aspect of all panel methods because it allows you to assess changes over some time. It forms a baseline that you can control the difference that will exist between participants at the start. Then as you take multiple observations over the time, you come back and compare them to the individual at the start. The panel method allows individual to get a measure of improvement or lack out of that. It also helps the researcher to mark the participants’ gains or losses over the time relative to some starting point.
The major downside of panel methods is just the cost, as mentioned. There are other subtle problems like survivor bias. The problem with panels face is that you will usually lose some participants. If your study group is large enough someone will drop out. The question did the person just drop out randomly or did they drop out for some reason correlated to what the study hopes to find. The panel method is known as survivorship bias; that is the survivors or ones that make it to the end bias the results. Only the IT literate might be the only one interested in online learning since they are good in computer operation. Furthermore, it might be easier to lose participants in particular groups, for example, the online group. If you are a face-to-face learner, maybe students do not learn as much but maybe they are also less likely to quit altogether. It is a downfall to panel studies, and there is no adequate solution for the problem. The reality is that you can only hope that too many people do not drop out and bias the results. The only real solution to solve this problem is properly incentivized all participants to keep going with the study. If there is no incentive, then you can be assured you will lose many; unfortunately, this often means paying members at the end of the study that further leads to escalating costs.
This paper looked at a thorough background concerning past methodologies that have been applied to the study of online education of adults. The literature is surprisingly diverse and extensive yet there are not many conclusive results. This paper has analyzed one particularly powerful methodology that might serve as solutions to the problem of understanding how online education affects adults learning. This very powerful technique can give powerful results, but does cost a lot to implement. It appears that given the lack of consensus on the topic this would be the ideal methodology. In the past, there has been every way to control the problems involved in online learning and thus the lack of uniformity concerning the results. Panel methods would cure many of the systemic problems with past studies. The area has a firm foundation in a theory, and these theories should be able to be tested. Panel methods offer a stable solution to the problem. They give researchers the ability to control many of the variables that interact with the learning process. The learning process is dynamic and occurs over time. Thus, we need to have time elements in the research. Panel methods that would exploit a long time span and use many participants who could shed light on the hardest acceptance of online learning to correctly understand the teachings. A thorough panel study could conclusively show what works and how programs should be developed in the future (Giles, 1999). However, these methods are not perfect with an excellent design.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, T. (2008). The Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Google Books.
Cochran-Smith, M. (2005). Studying Teacher Education: The Report of the AERA Panel on Research and Teacher Education. American Education Research Association.
Cole, R. A. (2000). Issues in Web-based pedagogy. Greenwood Press.
Daniel, J. (2001). Evolution not an e-revolution in global learning. Times higher education Supplement.
Garrison, D. Randy (1999). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education, pp. 87–105.
Giles, J. E. (1999). Where’s the Learning in Service-Learning? Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. Jossey-Bass.
Hsiao, B. C. (2014). Analysis of Panel Data. Google Books.
Kozma, R. (2001). Counterpoint theory of “learning with Media. Learning from media.
Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2008). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. US Department of Education.
Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. P. (2003). Examing Social Presence in Online Courses in Relation to Students’ Perceived Learning and Satisfaction. IDEALS.
Rossett, A. (2002). Waking in the night and thinking about e-learning. McGraw-Hill.
Wilson, B. (1999). The Dangers of Theory Based Design. Retrieved from http://it.coe.uga.edu/
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